WITH no on-site doctor, nurse practitioner Helen Goodall is the first port of call for oncology patients presenting at Armidale Hospital.
A nurse practitioner is the most clinically specialised a nurse can be, and now Ms Goodall, a McGrath breast care nurse and a social worker will open outreach oncology clinics in Glen Innes and Inverell.
“I give education, I assess and triage referrals that come through, I can write scripts for cancer patients, order pathology – it’s a bridge,” Ms Goodall said.
People that attend the clinic do not need to be patients of the Armidale Hospital oncology unit.
Initially the clinics will target Inverell and Glen Innes bi-monthly with a view to turn monthly if there is the demand.
“It’s about trying to provide care and prevent people from having to travel, when you’re having chemotherapy if you can save a couple of trips and help somebody, hopefully that’s what we’re going to achieve,” Ms Goodall said.
Originally Ms Goodall wanted to be a social worker, but fate had other plans and she grew into a nursing career.
“It’s become a real passion, I absolutely love my job,” she said.
“I do need something that challenges me, I’m not the kind of person who can sit in one area and not go forward, not learn and not do different things.
“I like to feel that I’m doing a good job, a lot of people think I’ve picked a really hard area but it’s a real privilege and it gives me something back – I feel like I’m making a difference and I’m doing something good for somebody.”
Ms Goodall and hospital social worker Fiona Ord are also working on a post-chemotherapy plan for patients that may be struggling with their mental health.
“A lot of people report that they feel lost once chemotherapy is finished,” Ms Goodall said.
“It’s a holistic clinic to make sure that people aren’t falling through the cracks – it’s the new you, it’s about how you move forward and what strategies you use to start your life again.”